Committee Approves 2 Nominees to Environmental Posts Over GOP Opposition

By Nathan Worcester
Nathan Worcester
Nathan Worcester
Nathan Worcester is an environmental reporter at The Epoch Times.
September 23, 2021 Updated: September 23, 2021

The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works approved Jeff Prieto as general counsel for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Jennifer Sass as a member of the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB), setting the stage for a vote by the full Senate.

The two were approved, over Republican opposition, alongside two other nominees to the CSB, an independent federal agency: Stephen Owens and Sylvia Johnson.

Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (R.-W.Va.), the ranking Republican on the EPW committee, explained her concern about Prieto and Sass.

“CSB plays a critical role in analyzing why industrial accidents occur, and how they can avoid them in the future, in a technical and unbiased manner. Dr. Sass’s criticism of the chemical industry included deriding the EPA for engaging with the American Chemistry Council about implementing the Toxic Substances Control Act in a transparent manner,” she said.

“I was troubled by her attempt to conceal that attack, and other statements right after the hearing,” she said. “She took down her entire Twitter page. This kneejerk reaction, when confronted with hard questions, shows she is not the right person for a board committed to transparency.”

The Epoch Times couldn’t independently confirm the substance of the criticism about Sass. A Twitter handle linked to Sass in posts from the Natural Resources Defense Council, @JBSass, no longer exists.

Capito also expressed opposition to Prieto, citing the Biden administration’s efforts to broaden the amount of water under federal authority by defining them as Waters of the United States (WOTUS), and claiming that the Biden administration’s environmental policies could significantly harm the American economy.

Capito didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) spoke in favor of Prieto’s nomination.

“Mr. Prieto has dedicated over 20 years of his distinguished career to public service, serving across multiple departments in the executive branch,” he said. “At his hearing, he demonstrated the kind of intelligence, the kind of poise, and the kind of forthright commitment to EPA’s mission that will make him an outstanding general counsel.”

Carper also voiced support for all three ESB nominees.

“I am confident that each of these nominees to the Chemical Safety Board is immensely qualified and committed to making meaningful contributions to the Board’s mission.”

After approving the nominees, the committee held a hearing on recycling and the circular economy.

Nathan Worcester is an environmental reporter at The Epoch Times.